The matchup makes sense as the Sabres are the least successful team in the NHL this season, and have nobody on their team that has scored over 40 points. Depth has been an issue as well, so Rundblad will have an opportunity to display the offensive prowess that enticed Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman into trading for him.
Per Hockey’s Future, Rundblad has the highest prospect talent score within the Blackhawks’ defensive system. He plays an offensive style similar to former Blackhawks defenseman Michael Kostka, but should require less possessions in order to be successful alongside Nick Leddy. Kostka was by no means ineffective, but he lacked a visual chemistry with Leddy, the Blackhawks’ perennial fifth defenseman.
Luckily for Rundblad, the Blackhawks have a massive talent advantage over the lowly Sabres, who remain the only team in the NHL to score under two goals per game. It should be no surprise that they also possess the NHL’s worst even-strength goal differential.
It’s unclear how much ice time Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will give Rundblad, but the Blackhawks will likely have the puck while he is on. The Blackhawks’ new lines have been effective through one contest, with much of the sustained pressure coming as the result of faceoff wins. Chicago ranks sixth in faceoff percentage, while Buffalo is 27th. This, among other factors, provides an excellent environment for a debut with a new team.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486